Just like clockwork, I fill up the gas tank on our car every five days. I have pushed it to six from time to time, but it seems that when I do that, I’m sweating over the tank light until I make it to the gas station. On the down side, the engine has an 11:1 compression ratio, and doesn’t run worth a crap on anything short of premuim. On the up-side, the tank only holds twelve gallons, and the car sips on that at an average of 26.5-mpg. Yesterday was the day in question when it was time to fill up.
The station that I prefer to go to is near Jenni‘s office, but it’s kind of a rough corner. It’s not that I ever fully let my guard down – I’m just not the kind of person that ever takes it for granted that I’m ‘safe’, but I have my more relaxed moments and my more guarded moments. When I’m at this gas station in particular, I’m usually on high-alert, carefully observing everything happening around me.
While I was filling the tank, I noted the other cars and drivers in the parking lot and at the pumps. It’s funny that the people I notice don’t necessarily seem to notice me there. I watched a silver Pontiac Vibe pull into the parking lot and up to the ‘FREE AIR’ compressor thingy. I watched as a mid-thirties, brunette girl stepped from the car, wearing a pair of khaki-colored pants and an unprinted, white T-shirt. This struck me as odd, since it was close to freezing, if not below. When she turned to close her door, I saw a full-sized, polymer semi-automatic in a belt holster on her right side.
It appeared to be a S&W M&P or something similar. The magazine floor plate looked like the M&P’s anyway, but I was trying my very hardest not to stare. I glanced around the parking lot, and it was very clear that nobody else had noticed. I looked back in her direction, and she had turned so that I could only see her left side, and the gun was out of sight. For a fraction of a second, I wondered if I had imagined it – until she turned with the air hose in her hand and I caught a full view of the profile of her sidearm again. Once she was done airing up her tires, she pulled around to a gas pump and proceeded to fill up her tank. I left the gas station while she was doing this.
When I picked up Jenni from her office, I told her about the whole experience. She said that it didn’t really surprise her, as she’s seen many people in that little part of town open carrying. She noted that they are usually young women alone, or people on motorcycles. Personally, I can fully understand why anyone on a bike, or without some kind of group support would want to be armed in this neighborhood. Honestly, that’s a big reason that I got my CCW permit – most places that I hang around are extremely safe, but I do pass through other areas that raise my red flags.
Having said all that, public open carry is explicitly illegal in the State of Oklahoma. I know people do it, because I’ve seen people do it on multiple occasions. Working retail, I had a salty, old, regular customer who kept a nickled revolver on his hip at all times, and in plain sight. And then, I’ve had many experiences like the one yesterday, where I’ve witnessed an ununiformed individual openly packing heat. (Maybe that’s why she was down to her T-shirt in freezing temperatures! :-D) In any case, I have to wonder how people get away with it. You don’t just wander around, obviously breaking the law as a lifestyle and still not get caught. I could understand how someone might do it out of ignorance, but that would only last until the inevitable confrontation with law enforcement. Perhaps they know some kind of obscure, legal loophole that has so far evaded me? There has been a pretty hard push to legalize open carry in the state, perhaps these people are deliberately breaking the law as a protest to that end? In any case, it does boggle the mind.